A brand new study from the nonprofit Athlete Ally ranks US universities’ athletic departments based on their LGBTI-inclusive policies. It’s the first of its kind from the group and an important step forward in combating discrimination in sports.
The Athletic Equality Index measures how the ‘NCAA Power Five conferences are supporting their LGBTQ student-athletes, coaches, administrators, staff, and fans’.
In layman’s terms, the NCAA is the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The Power Five are athletic conferences in NCAA football comprising what are considered the best college football teams in the nation. They consist of the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC, all of which consist of several schools.
The organization assigned point values to aspects like school-wide nondiscrimination policies (35 points), following the NCAA guidelines of including trans athletes (10 points), etc.
Studying handbooks, manuals, social media, and news, Athlete Ally then tallied the points all together.
Where did the universities rank?
In terms of conferences, the Pac-12 fared best with an average score of 79.68 (out of 100). Meanwhile, SEC came in last with 56.4 points, right behind the Big 12’s 57.35.
Stanford and USC of the Pac-12 were the only two schools to score perfect 100s. Three other schools scored 90 or higher. They include: University of Texas at Austin (90), UC Berkeley (90), and University of Oregon (95).
One school measured worst with an astonishing -45 points.
Baylor University, a private Christian institution in Texas, may have scored 5 points for an LGBTQ-inclusive fan code of conduct, but it also received -50 for LGBTQ-inclusive campaigns or statements on behalf of the program. It scored 0 for every other category.
It’s not terribly surprising given Baylor ranked as one of the most LGBTQ-unfriendly schools in the country.
A culture of toxic masculinity
In the full report, the authors note: ‘A culture of toxic masculinity pervades sport — one that condemns male athletes that don’t adhere to it, polices female athletes that challenge it, and excludes anyone beyond or outside of this binary.’
It also reveals that only 1% of 9,494 participants believe LGBTQ people are completely accepted in sports.
Due to sports’ popularity, both within the United States and beyond, it’s critical to make them more inclusive and safe.
Sports create communities unto themselves, both for the teams and fans, and especially for younger people. At a time when individuals are learning who they are, having a supportive environment is invaluable.